Guess they're considering the alternatives: Gallup Poll finds 47% of Americans approve of President Obama, first time since last summer that positive rating's been higher than negative ... Now this is a shocker: Independent panel finds Japan wasn't prepared for disaster at Fukushima nuke plant ... Arab "Spring" in December: Arab League observers arrive in Syria and tour city of Homs; residents say government troops fired mortars and machine guns at them ... No spring in Moscow: After tens of thousands of demonstrators call for ouster of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, government says it's open to "dialogue" but won't give in to protesters' main demands ... Oh, the indignity! Jennifer O'Neill, former personal assistant to Lady Gaga, sues ex-boss for $380,000 in overtime, complains she was forced to "ensure the promptness of a towel following a shower." Monday, Dec. 26
Tuesday, Dec. 27
We're all right, Jack: Analysis by Washington Post finds median net worth of members of Congress more than doubled since 1984 (to $725,000) while median for all American families fell by $100 (to $20,500) ... The crime of moderation: Newt Gingrich, still slipping in polls, assails rival Mitt Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate" ... More of the same: Tens of thousands demonstrate in Syrian city of Homs after observers arrive and government pulls out tanks ... Back in the US, Obama administration to ask Congress for another $1.2 trillion increase in debt ceiling. This makes three since August ... Next stop Siberia: In apparent move to appease protesters, Kremlin reassigns Vladislav Y. Surkov, architect of Russian political system ... They don't call it a "mob" for nothing: Flash mob of 200 young people at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. goes on rampage; cops arrest 10.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
Farewell, Dear Leader: Tens of thousands of weeping, wailing North Koreans line streets of Pyongyang for Kim Jong-Il's funeral procession ... Farewell, Number 20: Michelle Duggar, star of "19 Kids and Counting," releases audio letter to miscarried fetus, says "I will look forward to meeting you one day" ... Rick who? New CNN poll shows Gingrich continuing to fade in Iowa, Romney on top, Rick Santorum gaining fast ... Showdown in the Strait? Iranian navy threatens to close off shipping through Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for US sanctions. US Fifth Fleet says "Up yours," or words to that effect ... Conspiracy theorist: Venezuelan President Victor Chavez says US may be behind wave of cancers that have stricken him and four other Latin American leaders ... Hollywood legend passes: Chimpanzee said to be one of those who played Cheetah in Tarzan movies dies at age 80 in Florida, where he was living in retirement.
Thursday, Dec. 29
Let them eat preferred stock: Mitt Romney (estimated net worth $202 million) accuses Obama (estimated net worth $10.5 million) of being out of touch with struggles of ordinary Americans, compares him to Marie Antoinette ... Meanwhile Michelle Bachmann insists her campaign is "very strong" despite Iowa campaign chairman Kent Sorenson's endorsement of Ron Paul, suggests he did it for money ... It's good to be the Kim: North Korea officially declares Kim Jong Un, son of Kim Jong-Il, nation's "Supreme Leader" ... Shades of B of A: Leaked memo reveals Verizon plans to charge customers $2 every time they pay bill online or via their phone ... Cheetah lives! (Maybe): Chimpanzee expert Steve Ross says tale of 80-year-old chimp who died in Florida after being Cheetah in Tarzan movies is unlikely: "To say 80 is really pushing it."
Friday, Dec. 30
What a Fox pas: Fox Latin America apologizes for running poll asking people if they thought Jews are to blame for killing Jesus ... That was quick: Verizon, swamped by consumer backlash, gives up plan to charge $2 "convenience fee" ... But he keeps trying: Newt Gingrich tells gathering in Iowa that "I can't do modern politics" ... To infinity and beyond! China unveils ambitious space program, plans to launch moon expeditions and establish space stations ... It's good to be the Kim, Part II: Kim Kardashian to make $600,000 for New Year's Eve gig at TAO nightclub in LA ... Getting a jump on 2012: It's already New Year's Eve in Samoa as island shifts to other side of International Dateline, skips over Dec. 30.
Saturday, Dec. 31
Welcome to the 21st century, Rupe: 80-year-old right-wing media titan Rupert Murdoch joins Twitter, quickly gains more than 14,000 followers ... Missile-rattling: Iran says it has land-to-sea missile capable of destroying US fleet in Strait of Hormuz ... We're all "terrorists" now: Obama signs bill allowing indefinite military detention of US citizens, but says he has "serious reservations." Yes, so do we ... Meet the New Year, same as the old year: NYC cops celebrate New Year's Eve by arresting 80 Occupy protesters in Zucotti Park ... In a gentler vein, Lady Gaga gives Mayor Michael Bloomberg a big smooch in Times Square at midnight.
Sunday, Jan. 1
The GOP Circus, New Year's Day edition: Campaigning in Iowa, Rick "Rambo" Santorum says if elected he would bomb Iran's nuclear sites ... Newt "Whiny" Gingrich says he feels he's being "Romney-boated" by Mitt Romney's attack ads ... Ron "I Am Not a Racist" Paul says Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended Jim Crow era in South, "undermined the concept of liberty" ... And here's some upbeat news to start the year: China reports 39-year-old man has died from bird flu.